To the Christian Reader.

HAving been informed upon ve­ry good grounds, that the for­mer Sermons of Mr William Fenner, have found good acceptance, both in regard of the worthinesse of the Author, and also in regard of the usefulnesse of the Sermons; I could not but give my approbation to these ensuing Sermons of the same Authour, and desire that they may find the like acceptance with all Godly wise Christians, and that they may become profitable to the Church of God.


THE SACRIFICE OF THE FAITHFULL. OR, A TREATISE shewing the nature, property, and efficacy of Zealous Prayer; together with some Motives to Pray­er, and Helps against discourage­ments in Prayer.

To which is added seven profitable Sermons.

  • 1. The misery of the Creature by the sinne of man, on Rom. 8. 22.
  • 2. The Christians imitation of Christ, on 1 Ioh. 2. 6
  • 3. The enmity of the wicked to the light of the Gospel, on John 3. 20
  • 4. Gods impartiality, on Esay 42. 24.
  • 5. The great Dignity of the Saints, on Heb. 11. 28.
  • 6. The time of Gods grace is limited, on Gen. 6. 3.
  • 7. A Sermon for spirituall Mortification, on Col. 3. 5.

By William Fenner, Minister of the Gospel▪ Fellow of Pembrok Hall in Cambridge, and Lecturer of Rochford in Essex.

LONDON, Printed for John Stafford, and are to be sold at his House over against Brides Church in Fleet-Street, 1648.

The CONTENTS of the first Treatise on Lament. 3. 5. 7.

  • THE opening of the words in which are three properties of effectuall Prayer. pag. 1.
  • 1. The unsatiablenesse of it till it be heard.
  • 2. The sensiblenesse of it whether it be heard or no.
  • 3. The supply it hath against danger, and discouragement. p. 2.
  • 1. Doct: An effectuall prayer is an unsati­able prayer. p. 3.
  • Quest. Must a man alwayes pray?
  • Ans. A man must give over the act of prayer for other duties, but he must never give o­ver the suit of Prayer. p. 5.
  • Rules to know whether our Prayers be unsati­able or no.
  • 1. It is an earnest begging Prayer. p. 6.
  • 2. It is constant Prayer. p. 8.
  • A godly mans Prayer is not out of his heart, till the grace he prayed for be in. p. 9.
  • 3. It is a Prayer that is ever a beginning. ib.
  • [Page] 4. It is a proceeding Prayer, it windes up the heart higher, and higher. ibid.
  • 5. It is a Prayer that purifieth the heart. p. 10.
  • It is more and more fervent. p. 11.
  • And more and more frequent. p. 12.
  • It will take time from lawfull recreations, and from the lawfull duties of our calling. p. 13.
  • And it will adde humiliation and fasting to Prayer. p. 14.
  • Use. To condemne those who pray for grace, and yet sit downe before grace is obtained. p. 15.
  • Such Prayers are.
  • 1. Endlesse. p. 16.
  • 2. Fruitlesse. p. 17.
  • 2. Doct: A godly soule is sensible of Gods hearing or not hearing his Prayer. p. 19.
  • Quest: How can the soule know whether it speed in Prayer or no?
  • Answ. 1. When God gives a soule further and further ability to pray, it is a signe that God heares it. p. 20.
  • But if the soule have no heart to continue its suit, it is a signe that God never meanes to heare that mans Prayer. p. 21.
  • 2. The preparednesse of the heart to Prayer, is a signe that God means to heare. p. 21.
  • [Page] 3. Gods gracious looke is a signe that he will heare; for sometimes God answers his peo­ple by a cast of his countenance. p. 22.
  • 4. The conscience of a man will answer him, whether God heares his Prayer or no. p. 26.
  • But a mans conscience may be misinformed. p. 27.
  • A wicked man may have a truce, though no true peace in his conscience. p. 28.
  • 5. The getting of the grace that a man prayes for, is a signe that God heares his Prayer. p. 29.
  • But God may give many temporall blessings, and common graces, yet not in love, but in wrath. ibid.
  • 6. If a man have Faith giuen him to beleive, it is a signe that God heares him. p. 30.
  • Good works are good signes of Faith, but they are but rotten grounds of Faith. p. 31.
  • Object: Every Promise runs with a conditi­on. ibid.
  • Ans. 1. The Promise is the ground of Faith, and the way to get the Condition. p. 32.
  • 2. Faith is the enabling cause to keep the Con­dition. p. 33.
  • Two things doe much hurt in Prayer.
  • 1. Groundlesse incouragement.
  • 2. Needlesse discouragement. p. 36.
  • [Page] 3. Doct. God would not have any Christian soule to be discouraged in Prayer. p. 39.
  • A definition of discouragement. ibid.
  • 4. Reasons. 1. Because discouragement hin­ders the soule in prayer. p. 42.
  • 2. Discouragement takes away the strength of the soule in Prayer. p. 43.
  • 3. If we have fearfull apprehensions of our sins, so as to thinke they will never be for­given, we can never pray aright. p. 45.
  • 4. If we have any secret despaire, we can never pray to purpose. p. 46.
  • There is a double desperation.
  • 1. Of infirmity, which draws the soul from God.
  • 2. Of extremity, which puts life into a mans Prayers and endeavours p. 47.
  • A man never prayes well till he feeles himselfe undone. p. 49.
  • We should take heed of discouragements; for
  • 1. Discouragements breed melancholinesse in the soule. p. 53.
  • 2. They breed hard thoughts of God. p. 54.
  • 3. They will cause a man to thinke that God hates him. p. 56.
  • 4. They will bring a man to despaire. p. 57.
  • Ministers should not preach the pure Law with­out the Gospel. p. 58.
  • Secret discouragements in the heart
  • [Page] 1. They take away the Spirit in the use of the meanes. p. 62.
  • 2. They drive us from the use of means. p. 63.
  • 3 They make a man continually to pore on his sins, so as he shall never be able to get out of them. p. 64.
  • 4. They breed nothing but sorrow. p. 66.
  • 5. They leave the soule in a maze, that it knows not whether to turne it selfe. p. 67.
  • 6. They whisper into a man a sentence of Death, and an impossibility of escaping. p. 68.
  • The conclusion of the whole. p. 69.

The Contents of that Sermon ROM. 8. 22.

  • EVery creature hath a three-fold good­nesse in it
  • 1. A goodnesse of end. p. 70.
  • 2. A goodnesse of nature. p. 71.
  • 3. A goodnesse of use. ibid.
  • There be foure evils under which every Crea­ture groaneth. p. 73.
  • 1. The continuall labour that the creature is put unto. ibid.
  • 2. The creature sometimes partakes of the plagues of the ungodly. ib.
  • [Page] 3. The Creature hath an instinctive fellow-feeleing of mans wretchednesse. p. 74.
  • 4. Because they are rent and torne from their proper Masters. ibid.
  • Doct. Every Creature groaneth under the sla­very of sinne. p. 75.
  • Not only under the slavery of sinfull men, but so far as they minister to the flesh of the Saints, they groane under them. ibid.
  • Object. Did ever any man heare any unrea­sonable creature groane under sin?
  • Answ. It is spoken Hyperbolically, to declare the great misery the creatures are into serve sinfull man. p. 76.
  • 2. Analogically in regard of a naturall in­stinct of blind reason, that is in all the crea­tures. ibid.
  • 3. It is spoken by way of supposition, if they had reason they would groane. p. 77.
  • 4. Intelligently, because a man cannot wreng the creature, but he wrongs God in the crea­ture. p. 78.
  • 5. Specifically, because the Godly come before God in the behalfe of all the creatures, and mourne for the abuse of the creatures. p. 79.
  • Foure Reasons why the creatures groane.
  • 1. Because they are distracted in their ser­vice. p. 80.
  • [Page] 2. Because of the unprofitablenesse of their service. p. 82.
  • 3. Because of the uncessantnesse of their ser­vice. p. 83.
  • 4. Because of that misery and woe the crea­tures lye under. p. 84.
  • Every creature hath,
  • 1. A specificall end. p. 85.
  • 2. An ultimate end. ibid.
  • A wicked man hath no true right unto the creature. p. 86.
  • But he hath
  • 1. A civill right. ibid.
  • 2. A providentiall right. ibid.
  • 3. A vindicative right. p. 87.
  • 4. A Creatures right, as he is a creature. ib.
  • But he hath no filiall right, no son-like right in Christ. p. 89.
  • Use. To shew that wicked men have little cause to be merry at any time, because there is nothing neare them, but groaneth under them. p. 90.
  • All creatures groane to God for vengeance to be powred upon the wicked. p. 92.
  • And these groanes are
  • 1. Upbraiding groanes. p. 95.
  • 2. Witnessing groanes. p. 96.
  • [Page] 3. Accusing groanes. p. 100.
  • 4. Iudging and condemning groanes. ibid.
  • Use. For exhortation.
  • 1. To take heed how we doe abuse the Creatures of God. p. 101.
  • 2. Take heed of sinning against God by the Creatures. ibid.
  • 3 Take heed of setting thy heart upon the Creature. p. 102.
  • 4. Use all the Creatures in humility and thankfulnesse. p. 102.
  • 5. Use the Creatures as so many Ladders to help thee to climb up towards Heaven. p. 103.

The Contents of that Sermon 1 JOHN. 2. 6.

  • THE opening of the words in foure parti­culars. p. 108.
  • Doct. A true Christian walks as Christ walk­ed. p. 109.
  • A man must first be in Christ, before he can walk as Christ walked. p. 110.
  • Object. Can any man walk as Christ walked? p. 111.
  • Answ. None can walk as Christ walked in re­gard [Page] of equality; but in regard of similitude they may. p. 111.
  • The life of Christ should be the Example of our life. p. 112.
  • Christ came into the World to redeeme us for our justification, and to be an example of life unto us for our sanctification. p. 114.
  • This Question answered. viz.
  • What it is to walke as Christ walked. p. 116.
  • Foure Reasons of the point.
  • 1. Because as Christ came into the World to justifie the ungodly, so he came to conforme them to his image. p. 117.
  • 2. Because in vaine we are called Christians, if we be not imitators of Christ, and live as he lived. p. 119.
  • 3. Because all that are in Christ, are Mem­bers of his body, therefore they must have the same life, and be quickned by the same Spirit. p. 121.
  • 4. Because of that neere relation that is betwixt Christ and every one of his Mem­bers. p. 123.
  • 1. Use. To shew that all men that live not the life of Christ, doe blaspheme the name of Christ. p. 127.
  • Of all sinnes under Heaven, God cannot en­dure the sins of them that take the name of [Page] Christ upon them. p. 198.
  • Doct: Every Minister is bound to preach home to men in particulars. p. 132.
  • 3. Reas. 1. Particulars are most operative. p. 133.
  • 2. Particulars are most distinct, and most powerfull. p. 135.
  • 3. Particulars are most sensible. p. 137.
  • Doct: Every Minister is bound to preach so, as to make a difference betwixt the pretious and the vile. p. 138.
  • Reas. 1. Because, otherwise a Minister pro­phanes the holy things of God. p. 139.
  • 2. Otherwise he cannot be the Minister of Christ. p. 141.
  • 3. Otherwise he is like to doe no good by his Ministery. ibid.

The Contents of that Sermon on JOHN 3. 20.

  • THE Context opened in foure particu­lars.
  • 1. What mans naturall estate, and condition is without Christ. p. 145.
  • 2. Gods gracious provision for mans salvati­on. p. 146.
  • [Page] 3. The condition required, viz. Faith. ibid.
  • 4. The reprobation of the World if they doe not believe. ibid.
  • But Christ is neither the efficient, nor defici­ent cause thereof. ibid.
  • But the cause of their damnation is from them­selves proved
  • 1 By their owne conscience. p. 147.
  • 2 By experience. p. 148.
  • 3. By Reason. p. 149.
  • In the words are two parts.
  • 1. The wickeds rejection of the word of grace. ibid.
  • 2. The cause of that rejection. ib.
  • viz. 1. First, from the qualification of their persons.
  • 2. From the disposition of their nature. ib.
  • Doct: A wicked man hates the word of Gods grace, yea grace it selfe. p. 150.
  • This hatred is
  • 1. An actuall hatred. ibid.
  • 2. It is a passion of the heart. p. 151.
  • 3. It causeth the heart to rise up against an union with the word. p. 153.
  • This union of the word is set in opposition
  • 1. To generall preaching. p. 154.
  • 2. To mercifull preaching. p. 155.
  • [Page] 3. To now and then preaching. p. 156. to p. 160.
  • If the World doe not hate a righteous man, it is either
  • 1. Because he is a great man. p. 160.
  • 2. Because he is a man of admirable wit, end knowledge. ibid.
  • 3. Or because God gives him favour in the eyes of the World. ib.
  • 4. This hatred causeth the heart to rise a­gainst that which is repugnant to its lusts. p. 162.
  • A wicked man may love 3 kinds of preaching.
  • 1. Eloquent preaching, that savours more of humanity then of Divinity. ib.
  • 2. Impertinent preaching. p. 163.
  • 3. Now and then some preaching, to satisfie the cravings of his Conscience. p. 164.
  • Reas: 1. A wicked man hates the word▪ be­cause he hates all truth, even the very being of the word. p. 165.
  • 2. Because he hates the very nature of the word. p. 167.
  • 3. Because he cannot endure the knowledge of the word. p. 169.
  • All naturall men hate the word.
  • 1. Because no entreaties, no beseeches can pos­sibly reconcile them. p. 171.
  • [Page] 2. Because neither mony, nor price can make them friends. p. 175.
  • 3. Because all the love in the World cannot unite them together. p. 176.
  • 4. Because neither the love of God, nor the bloud of Christ will soder them toge­ther. p. 177.
  • Every naturall man had rather be damned then leave his sinnes, rather goe to Hell then be a new creature. p. 178.

The contents of that Sermon on ESAY. 42. 24.

  • THE words contain five things.
  • 1. The Author of the destruction. p. 185.
  • 2. The causes of it. ibid.
  • 3. The judgement it selfe: p. 186.
  • 4. The people on whom it was inflicted. ibid.
  • 5. The effects of it. p. 187.
  • 1. Doct. God is the Author of all judgement that befalls a Nation. ibid.
  • 1. Use For comfort to Gods children, seeing God is the Orderer of all events. p. 119.
  • 2. Use For terrour to the wicked that God [Page] whom they hate shall be their judge. p. 190.
  • 3. Use. To learne in all calamities to looke up unto God. p. 191.
  • 2. Doct. Sinne and disobedience against the Law of God, is that which brings downe punishments, and judgements, upon a Nati­on, Church, or People. ibid.
  • Use. 1. To discover the weaknesse of our Land, in what a poore condition it is by rea­son of sinne. p. 193.
  • 2. To shew who be the greatest Traytors to a Kingdome. p. 194.
  • 3. To teach all of us to set hand and heart, Prayers and tears a worke against sinne. p. 195.
  • Especially it concernes those that are in places of Authority. p. 197.
  • 3. Doct. The Lord often times brings fear­full, and unavoydable judgements, and pu­nishments, upon his owne professing peo­ple. p. 200.
  • Foure signes of Judgement a comming.
  • 1. When the Ministers of God with one voyce, foretell judgements to come. p. 202.
  • 2. When sinnes of all sorts doe abound. ib.
  • 3. When the Divell and wicked men cast in bones of dissention. p. 203.
  • 4. When all mens hearts begin to faile. p. 204
  • [Page] Three Directions, what is to be done in such times.
  • 1. Let us shake off the love of all things here below. p. 206.
  • 2. Let us lay our heads upon the block, and be willing that God should doe what he will with us. p. 208.
  • 3. Let us pray and cry mightily to God, be­fore we dye, even all the time we have to live, for mercy, peace, and truth. ibid.
  • The Church of England like the ship of Jo­nah. p. 209.
  • The Authors Admonition to the People. ib. & p. 210. &c.
  • More then ordinary Faith requisite for these times of danger. p. 211. 212. &c.

A DISCOURSE OF the nature of prevalent Prayer, together with some helps against discouragements in Prayer.

LAMENT. 3. VER. 57.‘Thou drewest neare in the day that I cal­led upon thee, thou saidst feare not.’

THis Book of the Lamentations doth plainely shew what mise­ries and distresses sinne is the cause of. Now this people of the Jewes, because of their I­dolatries, their contempt of Gods Ordinan­ces, their slighting and misusing the Pro­phets, &c. Their Cities were taken, the Temple burned, their liberties confiscated, themselves banished out of their countrey, [Page 2] and deprived of the ordinances of their God, and the signes of his presence, before they were rebellious: but now they sought God a long time; they prayed, but God would not heare, In so much that many poore soules amongst them were discoura­ged, and almost ready to despaire; That had not the Lord put in some incklings of hope, they had utterly fainted. Now whilst these poore soules were praying and crying, and groaning, and now ready to give over for discouragement that God will not hear them, presently the Lord flings in comfort, and beckens to their hearts not to be discou­raged, but to pray on and feare not. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee, thou saidst feare not; the words containe in them three properties of effectuall prayer.

1 First, the unsatiablenesse of it till it bee heard.

2 Secondly, the sensiblenesse of it whether it be heard or noe.

3 Thirdly, the supplies it hath from dangers and discouragements that it is in.

1 First the unsatiablenesse of it; All the praiers of this people though they had beene of many yeares, yet they counted them as the prayers of one day; in the day that I called upon thee: They account all their [Page 3] thousands of supplications and prayers as one suite; never had they done their pray­ers till God did heare them.

Secondly the sensiblenesse of it, where­by 2 it is able to know whether God doe heare it or no: Thou drewest neere in the day that I called upon thee.

Thirdly, the supplyes it hath against 3 dangers and discouragements; God slings in comfort into their hearts, giving them incklings of hope to support them agaynst their discouragements, thou saidst feare not: from the first of these, observe

That an effectuall prayer is an unsatiable prayer, A man that prayes effectually, sets down this in himself as his first conclusion never to cease, nor to give over praying till he speed: This is the first and prime thing that a godly heart lookes at, as David in his prayers: He begins in this manner, Heare my crie O God, attend unto my prayer. Psal. 61. 1. So, Give eare unto my prayer O God, and hide not thy selfe from my supplications, Psal. 55. 1. Hear my voyce O God in my prayer, Psal. 64. 1. As if he should say, Lord, now I come to call upon thee: now that I come to thee, to begge these and these gra­ces that my soule wants, I beseech thee to heare me: for I am resolved never to give o­ver [Page 4] my suit, never to give thee rest, but for to continue my prayers and supplications, till thou give a gratious answer to my soul and heare me.

This is the first and prime thing that the soule looks after, it being the very end of prayer to be heard; it is not with prayer as with Oratory; the end of oratory is not to perswade, but to speake perswasively; for a man may use all the perswasions that may be, and use all the perswasive arguments that the wit of man can invent, and speake as cuttingly, as perswasively as may be, and yet the heart may be so intractable as not to be perswaded; it is not so with prayer.

The end of prayer is to prevaile with God. Beloved, there is difference between the end and office of prayer; the office of prayer is to pray, the end of prayer is to prevaile. There is many a man that doth the office of prayer, and yet never gets the end of prayer. A man hath never gotten the end of his prayers, till he hath gotten that he prayed for. It is not with prayer as with a Physician, that may give the best physick under heaven, and yet the Patient may die under his hands; and therefore one gives counsell that a Physician never med­dle with a desperate man.

[Page 5] But if the soule be an effectuall suitor with God, it can never faile of its suite, because it is an unsatiable Suitor, that never leaves his prayer till it terminates the end of it. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. Jerom translates it for ever. Psal. 3. 4. never doth a child of God pray, but he prayeth so as that his praier and Gods eare may be joy­ned together; I cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard me: This also sheweth how the Prophet cried and praied, namely so as his crying and Gods hearing were coupled to­gether. But some may object,Object. How can a man be unsatiable in his praiers til he speed? must a man be alwaies a praying? God calls men to other duties of his worshippe, and of his owne particular calling; after morning I must have done till noone, after noone I must have done till night: whether God heare me or no, must I be alwaies a praying till I speed? then I should doe nothing else but pray; how then are we to continue our praiers till God heare us, and give the grace that we pray for? to this I answer.

A man must give over the words andAnsw. times of prayer for other duties, but a man must not give over the suite of prayer. A poore begger comes to a housekeepers gate [Page 6] and begs, but none heares him; now he be­ing a poore man, hath something else to doe, and therefore he sits downe or stands and knits or patches, and then he begs or knocks, and then to his work again; though he do not alwaies continue knocking or begging, yet he alwaies continues his suite: O that my suite might be granted me, or that I might have an almes here; so when the soul is begging of any grace, though it doth not alwaies continue the words of praier, yet it alwaies continues the suite of praier. David he would dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psal. 23. 6. A wicked man it may be will turne into Gods house and say a prayer, &c. but the Prophet would (and so all godly men must) dwell there for ever; his soule lyeth alwaies at the throne of grace begging for grace. A wicked man he prayeth as the cock croweth; the cocke crowes and ceaseth, and crowes again and ceaseth again; and thinkes not of crowing til he crowes again: so a wic­ked man praies and ceaseth, prayes and cea­seth againe; his minde is never busied to thinke whether his prayers speede or no; he thinkes it is good Religion for him to pray, and therefore he takes that for grant­ed that his praiers speede, though in very deed God never heares his praiers, nor no [Page 7] more respects it, then he respects the low­ing of Oxen, or the gruntling of hoggs: he is found in his prayers as the wilde Asse in her months: Jer. 2. The wilde Asse in re­gard of her swiftnesse cannot be taken but in her months, she hath a sleepy month, and all that while she is so sleepy and dumpish that any man may take her; in her months you shall finde her; so a wicked man hath his prayer monthes, his praier fits: it may be in the morning, or in the evening, or day of his affliction and misery you shall have him at his prayers, at his prayer fits then you shall finde him at it, but otherwise his mind is about other matters. But the childe of God what ever he ailes, he goes with his pe­tition presently to the throne of grace, and there he never removes till he hath it grant­ed him, as here we see the prayers of the Church consisting of many yeares, yet are counted but one suite; try therefore and ex­amin whether thy praiers be unsatiable prai­ers yea or no; and for helpe herein take these markes; first if thy prayers be unsatiable 1 praiers, then it is a begging praier; thou prai­est as if thou hadst never praied before, as if thou hadst never begun to pray, and thou never thinkest that thou hast done any thing till thou hast done the deede. As a hungrie [Page 8] man eates as if he had never eate before, so the unsatiable soule praies as if he had never prayed before, till he hath obtained that he hath praied for; but a wicked man he praies not thus. Iob speaking of carnal professors, Iob 27. 10. Will he call upon God at all times? seest thou a wicked man go to a good duty, go to praier, do you think that he wil hold out al­waies? he will never do it; for a wicked man he reasons with himself, I have called upon God thus & thus long, I hope I need not pray any more for this thing, & so he gives over.

But a godly man he will be alwaies cal­ling upon God. Beloved, there is a beginning to an action, and a beginning of an action; thou never beginnest to lift up a weight till thou stirrest it from ground; indeede thou mayst begin towards the action by pulling at it, by reaching at it; but thou never begin­nest the lifting up of the weight til thou stir it from its place: thou mayst give a pull at prayer, and tugge at a grace, but thou hast not so much as begun that duty, till thou seest God begin to hear thee, till thou seest the grace a coming; therefore the Prophet David when he prayed and had not that he prayed for, his prayers returned into his owne bosome, Psal. 35. 13. there to lie to be a continuall suiTe unto God. A wicked [Page 9] man praies, and he leaves his praier behind him in his pew, or in his hal, or chamber; but a godly man praies and his prayer is in his heart, his praier is not out til the grace be in.

Secondly an unsatiable prayer, it is ever­more 2 a proceeding prayer; you would think that these are two contraries and one oppo­site to the other, but they are not, only they are two severall things: as it is ever a begin­ning praier, because in his own thoughts he reckons or thinkes that he hath nothing till he speedes; so the soule that is unsatiable in praier, he proceedes, he gets neere to God, he gaines somthing, he windes up his heart higher, or somthing or other he gets: As a child that seeth the mother have an apple in her hand, and it would faine have it, it will come and pull at the mothers hand for it: now she lets go one finger and yet she holds it, and then he pulls againe, and then she lets goe another finger and yet she keepes it, and then the child pulls againe, and will never leave pulling and crying till it hath got it from his mother: So a child of God seeing all graces to be in God, he drawes neere to the throne of grace begging for it, & by his earnest & faithful praiers, he opens the hands of God to him: God dealing as parents to their children, holds them off for a while, not [Page 10] that he is unwilling to give, but to make them more earnest with God: to draw them the neerer to himselfe; a wicked man praies and his praiers tumble downe upon him againe; and his heart is as dead as ever it was before, as sensuall as e­ver, as carnall and earthly as ever, as hard, as impenitent and secure as ever.

A godly man when he praies, though he have not gotten the thing totall that he desi­red, yet he is neerer God then he was before; his heart growes every day better then other by his praiers; he obtaines still some­thing, as the Prophet Hoseah speakes of knowledge Hos. 6. 3. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord▪ so I may say of praier, & of al other good duties, then we pray if we proceed on wards in praier.

A man may know and know, and yet ne­ver know the Lord, till he goe on in know­ledge; so a man may pray and pray, yet if he goe not on-wards in his praiers, his prai­ers are nothing. A godly man praies as a builder builds; now a builder he first layeth a foundation, and because he cannot finish in one day, he comes the second day, and findes the frame standing that he made the first day, and then he adds a second dayes worke, and then he comes a third day and [Page 11] findes his two former dayes worke standing; then he proceeds to a third dayes worke, and makes walls to it, and so he goes on till his building be finished. So prayer it is the building of the soule till it reach up to heaven; therefore a godly heart praies and reacheth higher & higher in prai­er, till at last his prayers reach up to God.

It is a signe of a wicked man to pray and to let his prayers fall downe againe up­on him. And here I appeale to the consci­ences of wicked men, if it be not so with them; they pray and pray, but their hearts are as dead and deceitfull, as proud and vaine, as ignorant, blockish and rebellious, as if they had never praied.

Thirdly, it is more and more a fervent 3 praier; if a little praier will not serve the turne, if he speeds not to day, then he will pray more earnestly to morrow; and if that will not serve the turne, he will adde more.

As a man in winding up of a bucket, if two or three windings will not fetch it up, he will winde it up higher and higher, till it comes up; for if he should onely winde up once or twise and no more, but hold it just at the same pin, the bucket would never come up; So if a man praies and praies, and windes not up his heart higher, but [Page 12] holds it just at the same pegge it was, praies in the same fashion he did, grace will never come up. Marke then how thou prayest, examine thy heart; dost thou pray to day as yesterday, with no more zeal, nor feeling affection, nor sencible desire? thou praiest not unsatiably.

No, thou restrainest thy praying from growing, an excellent discription of an hy­pocrite, Iob 14. 4. though falsly applied to Job. Thou restrainest prayer before God; in some translations it is Thou keepest thy pray­ers from growing, thou restrainest thy praiers as a dwarffe is restrained from growing, so thou restrainest thy praiers from being more and more earnest and effectuall and fervent, unsatiable praier is growing in zeale and affection.

4 Fourthly it is a more and more frequent praier, so that if twice a day will not serve the turne, he will pray three times a day. Psal. 55. 17. and if that will not prevaile, he will pray seven times a day. Psal. 119. 164. and when that is not enough, he will be even ever a praying, hardly broken off day or night. Psal. 88. 1. he cares not how of­ten he praies; it may be that thou hast been a suitor for strength and grace against corrup­tions, and hast put up many praiers to the [Page 13] same purpose. If now thou stickest at any praiers, thy praiers are not unsatiable; an unsatiable soul never resteth, though it have made ten thousand praiers, till it have gotten the grace; it is so with other things, and therefore we neede not wonder at it; when a man doth his worke one day, he will do it another, and so on as long as he lives till his worke be done; so must we doe for heaven and for grace.

Fifthly it is ever more and more a backt 5 praier: if ordinary praiers will not serve the turne: a godly heart will cut off time from his recreations and pleasures, though in themselves lawfull. Beloved, it may be with thy soule in its wrastlings and strivings for grace and power against corruptions, that ordinary praiers will not satisfie it, but it will be necessary to give over even lawfull delights, and give that time to praier; so a man will doe for the world, if he have a bu­sinesse of importance, that will bring him in gaine, he will be content to part with his delights, and recreations, and pleasures, to follow after it; so a man must doe for his soule, and if that be not enough, then lay a­side the duties of thy calling, to take time from that. If a man have two houses on fire both together, the one his mansion dwel­ling [Page 14] house, the other some backe roome or stable, if he can, he will save both; but if he see that by spending his time on quenching the fire on the stable, that his great mansion house will burne downe, he will then neg­lect the other and let it burne if it will, and imploy himselfe about his house; So when the soule is in misery under the want of grace, that it cannot live under, but must perish eternally if it have it not, then the soule being better then the body, rather then that the soule miscarry, we will neglect the body sometime. And if this will not serve, abstaine from meate and drinke, fast it out; thus the people of God are faine to doe ma­ny times; their lust and corruptions being e­ven as the devill himselfe, which cannot be cast out but by praier and fasting; there is an excellent place: Joel: 2. 12. Therefore now turne unto the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning, rent your hearts, &c. There­fore now, now your sinnes are so divelish, now your sinnes are so deepely rooted in your soules, now your corruptions are come to be such plague soares within you, doe you not thinke that your ordinary re­pentance, and ordinary praiers and humi­liations will serve the turne, but now backe them with fasting and mourning. Here now [Page 15] thou mayst examine thy soule whether it have praied effectually, unsatiably yea or no; hath it ever a begging praier, that thou praiest as if thou hadst never praied before? is it evermore a proceeding praier, that thou doest every day draw neerer to God then other? is it more and more a backt praier, a fervent and frequent praier? hast thou ta­ken from thy recreations, from thy calling to give to it, yea from thy belly and backe, and used all meanes for a prevailing with God? then are thy praiers effectuall and un­satiable.

This then condemnes the praiers of mostUse. men in the world, they pray and pray for grace, and their praiers come to an end, and cease before they have it; the angrie fret­chard praies for patience and meeknesse and yet sets downe without it; the covetous worldling praies to be weaned from the world, and his praiers are done before he is so; so the lukewarmeling deadhearted and vaine-thoughted professor praies for better thoughts, for more zeale, and yet comes to his be it so before he have it▪ and so every wicked man praies, and he is come to his Amen before the grace is given; let all such men know that such praiers first they are endlesse, secondly they are fruitlesse.

[Page 16] First they are endlesse: The Philosopher said that that for which a thing is, that is the end of the thing: now praier is for the speeding with God: and therefore he whose praiers speed not with God, his praiers are endlesse: thou hast praied against thy pride, but art as proude still: thou hast praied a­gainst thy choler and art as teachy still: thou hast praied against earthlines and worldlines, and art earthly and worldly still: thou hast praied against security and deadnes of heart, and lukewarmenesse in Gods service, and art lukewarm, dead hear­ted and secure still: to what end are all thy praiers, when thou enjoyest not the end of thy praiers? to what end is plowing of thy ground if it be not fallow? when thy plow­ing is done, to what end is the worke of thy servant, if thy businesse be not done, and dispatched when all is done? As good ne­ver pray as pray to no end, as good that thou never hadst begun to pray, as to cease, and to give over thy praiers before thou hast obtained the grace thou prayest for: The prayers of the wicked are an abomination unto the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is his delight: Prov. 15. 8. that is, the prai­ers of a wicked man that continues in his wickednesse, when his praiers are done, [Page 17] praiers are an abomination to the Lord: but the praiers of the upright though he were before he praied never so wicked, yet if it be the praier of an upright and godly man, when his praiers are done, that his praiers rid him of his sin, and make him an upright man, his praiers are Gods delight.

Beloved, many pray against distrust in Gods providence, Infidelity in Gods pro­mises, Impatiency under Gods corrections, &c. and yet have never the more trust and affiance in God, never the more patience under the hand of God, all these praiers are endlesse.

Secondly, thy praiers are fruitlesse: to 2 what purpose is a beggers begging of an almes? if he be gone before the almes be be­stowed, his begging is fruitlesse; so all thy praiers are lost, if thou art gone from the Throne of grace, before grace is given thee: for if such a praier be endlesse, then is it also fruitlesse: it will never do thee any good. what is a fruitlesse tree good for, but to be cut down? what is a fruitlesse Vine good for, but to be burned? So all thy praiers are lost, all thy beginnings of grace are lost. we know saith the man that was borne blind, John 9. that God heareth not sinners, we know it: Why may some [Page 18] say, how do you know that God heares not sinners? why, we know it by e [...]perience, by examples.

A drunkard prayeth to God to cure him of his drunkennes, & yet he doth not leave his ill company; all the world may see that God hears not the drunkards praier because he cures him not, but lets him go on in his sin; and so for all other sins: seest thou a man goe, on in his sinnes? thou mayest see that God heareth not his praiers. if a man should be sicke on his death bed, and send for the Physicians and Apothecaries in the Country, and send for his Father, Mother, and for all his friends to come to him to mi­nister to him: yet I know he is not cured by them so long as I see his deadly disease re­maines upon him; so if I see a mans pride, hypocrisie, security, deadnesse of heart, his lust, anger, &c. lie upon him: notwithstan­ding all his praiers, I know God heares not his praiers; he prayes to be cleansed from his sinnes, and to be purged from his lust, and to be redeemed from his vaine conver­sation: if now God let his sinnes continue in him, and lets him goe on in them, we see plainely God heares not him. O what a pittifull and miserable case are such men in, that pray and pray, and yet all their [Page 19] praiers are endlesse and fruitlesse! is not that man in a pittifull case, that all physick, all cost and charges is lost upon him; when his cating and drinking, his sleeping, and winding and turning from this side to that side do him no good; do we not say of him that he is a dead man? so if a mans praiers and supplications to God be endlesse and fruitlesse: that man must needs be a dead and a damned man so long as he goeth on in that case.

Now we come to the second part of the Text, the sensiblenesse of the godly soule. whether it speed or no, the soule that praies aright, that praies unsatiably: it is able to say the Lord doth heare me, the Lord doth grant me the thing that I praied to him for; Thus saith Jonah, I cried unto the Lord and he heard me; out of the belly of Hell cryed I, and thou heardst my voice, Jonah 2. 2. How could Jonah say God heard his voice, if he had not known it? therefore he knew it. But against this some may object,

How can this be? how can the souleObject▪ know that God heares it? we have no An­gels, nor voices from Heaven now to tell men, as the Angel told Cornelius that his praiers were accepted, and come up before God; or to say as Christ to the woman in [Page 20] the Gospell, Be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee; I know God heares me with his All-hearing eare, and therefore I have a good beliefe in God: but how shall I know that God heares my praiers in mercy, so as to grant that I pray for?

There be sixe wayes to know whether the soule shall speed in prayer, yea or no.Answ.

1 The first is, the having of a Spirit of fur­ther and further praying. When God gives the soule a further and further ability to pray, when God opens a way for the soule to the Throne of grace, and gives him a free accesse to the gate of mercy, and a spirit to hold out in prayer: It is a signe that God meanes to hear it. When a Petitioner hath accesse to the King, and presents his Petiti­on, If the King imbolden him in his speech, and let him speak all that he would speak, it is a signe that the King meanes to grant that man his petition, because otherwise the King would never have endured to have heard him so long, but would have com­manded him to be gone. So it is with the soule at the Throne of grace; if it come with a petition and prayer to God; if God dispatch the soule out of his presence, so that the soul hath no heart to pray, nor to continue its suite; but praies deadly and [Page 21] dully, and is glad when he hath said his prayers, and hath done: it is a fearefull signe that God never means to heare that mans prayers: but if thou praiest and praiest, and hast not done in thy praiers, but God by casting in a spirit of prayer and zeale, and fervency in prayer, imboldens thy heart in its petitions, it is a signe that God will heare thee, and grant thee thy prayers.

Blessed be God saith the Prophet, that hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me; How could the Prophet say that the Lord did not turne away his mercy from him? How! because he turned not away his prayer from him. Many Exposi­tors expound it of not turning away his prayer from his heart; as if he should say, Lord, thou continuest my heart to pray, thou hast not taken away my prayer from my heart; therefore I know that thou con­tinuest thy mercy unto me.

Secondly, the preparednesse of the heart to 2 pray, is a signe that God means to heare. When the Merchant stretcheth his bagge wider and wider, it is a signe that he means to put something in it: so when God opens the heart of a poore soule, it is a signe that he means to fill it; when God prepares the [Page 22] soule with more hunger and thirst after grace, with more longings and breathings: it is a signe that God hath already prepared his eare to heare that prayer; it is a signe that heart shall speed with God in prayer: Psal. 10. 17. Lord thou hast heard the desire of the humble, thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine eare to heare. First, God prepares the heart to pray, and then he bows his eare to heare.

Examine thy soule then; art thou more and more prepared to pray? hath God spo­ken with a powerfull voice to thy soule to open it selfe wide? it is a signe that God meanes to fill thy soul with his graces. But if thou canst rush into Gods presence, and leave thy preparednesse behind thee; lea­vest thy soule and thy thoughts, and thy affections behinde thee; and comest with a straightned heart in thy deadnesse and luke­warmenesse; this is a fearefull signe that God will not heare thee.

3 Thirdly, Gods gracious looke, is a signe that he will heare thee: for sometimes (be­loved) God answers his people by a cast of his countenance, with a gratious smile of his face. Psal. 22. 24. he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hid his face from him, but [Page 23] when he cryed unto him he heard. Hereby was the Prophet able to know that God did heare his prayer, because he did not hide his face from him; when his poore soule saw God smile on him, and set a favoura­ble eye upon him, this made him say that God heard his cry.

This is a riddle to the world.

If you should aske the men of the world what the meaning of Gods gracious counte­nance is, or what they see of it? alas, they can say nothing of it; they know not what it meanes; onely the godly man understan­deth, Psal. 34. 15. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his eares are open unto their cry, These two goe together, their prayers enter into Gods eares, and they know it; why? because they see it in his coun­tenance upon them, as a Petitioner may read his speeding with the King by his countenance towards him; so a poore soul may see how prayers prevaile by Gods countenance and look upon him.

If thou then art a stranger to Gods coun­tenance, if God never admitted thee into his presence to see his face and counte­nance; it is a signe that God little regards thy prayers, and hath no minde to heare thee. A wicked man is like a varlet that [Page 24] stands without dores and begges an almes, but is not suffered to goe into the Gentle­mans presence, and therefore knowes not how he speeds, whether the Gentleman will give him an almes, or whether he be providing a cudgell to beat him away: so a wicked man prayes and puts up his peti­tions to God, but he is not able to come be­fore God: he cannot see whether God looke as if he meant to heare his prayers, yea or no; he knows not but that God may be providing a curse and plague for him in stead of a blessing. But a child of God comes within the list of Gods countenance; he can tell when God smiles on him: and when he takes another looke: he is able to come into Gods presence, Job 13. 16. He also (saith Job) shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him. A strange verse. Job saith, God is his salvation: and he gives this reason why he was able to say so: for an hypocrite shall not come before him. One would think that this were no reason: but yer it is an undeniable reason, as if Job had said, I come into his presence, and he lookes like a Saviour, a Redeemer upon me; but an hypocrite shall not come be­fore him: he stands like a rogue and begs without the gate.

[Page 25] Indeed a wicked man comes into Gods presence, in regard of Gods Omnipresence: but this is not enough: thy Oxe, and thine Asse stands in Gods presence: yea so, the ve­ry Devils themselves are in Gods presence. But if thou come not into Gods presence of grace, if God doe not admit thy soule into the list of his Throne: it is a signe that God heares thee not. Men should therefore ex­amine their consciences, what face or pre­sence of God they come into or see: when they pray in their prayers, whether they come before God, yea or no.

Beloved, no wicked man under heaven can come before God: this is made the marke of a godly man onely, Psal. 140. 13. The upright shall dwell in thy presence, (marke here) dwelling in Gods presence is onely de­termined to the righteous: the upright shall dwell in thy presence: And here I appeale againe to the hearts and consciences of wic­ked men, what presence of God doe they finde in their prayers? they see their Pews, and the walls or hangings, &c. before them: they see the heavens and the clouds above them: they are like rogues that know nothing within dores. Doe they see Gods presence and countenance? no: it is the up­right man onely that dwels in Gods pre­sence: [Page 26] He sees how God lookes on him, how his face smiles on him: and therefore, it is not a wicked mans coming to Church, and falling on his knees, and uttering the words of prayer that is a coming into Gods presence: then, this would be a false say­ing of the Prophet. For a wicked man may go to Church and fall upon his knees, &c. but never come before God.

This presence, is, to see the face of God.

4 Fourthly the conscience of a man doth answere him whether God heare him yea or no. As it was with the high Preist, whensoever the high Preist came into Gods presence to in­quire of him, though God did not appeare visibly unto him, yet he might reade Gods answer in his Vrim and Thummim; he might there know Gods minde: so a mans consci­ence is his Urim and Thummim. When he comes before God, his own conscience gives him an inckling whether he speede or no: 1 Ioh. 3. 20, 21. If our hearts condemne us, God is greater then our hearts & knoweth al things. Belived, if our hearts condemne us not, then have we confidence towards God. If a mans conscience tell a man that his praiers are rotten, that his humiliation is rotten, that his heart is not upright, that yet he is not purged from his sinnes, that his seeking of [Page 27] God is fained and hypocritical; it is the ve­ry voice of God in his soule: and if our con­sciences condemne us, God (saith the Apostle) is greater then our consciences.

There no is condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8. 1. as if he should say, those that are in Christ, God doth not condemne them; they have not that con­demnation: nay their owne conscience doth not condemn them: so that, that man whom any condemnation either from God, or from his owne conscience, condemnes, that man is not in Christ; being not in Christ, he can never be heard.

Indeede, a mans conscience may be mis­informed by Satan under a temptation; as you may see in the verse before my text: Thou hast heard my voyce: stop not thine eare from my cry. Here the Church being exami­ned, their consciences told them they were heard in their praiers: but being under a temptation, their consciences were afraide that God heard not. So many a poore soule: examine it, and it cannot deny but that these and these tokens of grace and fruites of Gods Spirit are in it; yet their conscien­ces are afraide that the Lord will not give them these and these other graces that they want: that the Lord will not heare them for [Page 28] such and such blessings.

I meane not neither a truce of conscience: for there may be a truce of conscience in wicked men. A truce may be betweene mortall enemies: but no peace but amongst freinds. Wicked mans consciences are like the Lion, 1. Kings 13. who when he had killed the Prophet, stood by the Corps, and by the Asse, and did not eate the body, nor teare the Asse; so a wicked mans consci­ence, it is as the divells band-dogge or roa­ring Lion: till it hath slaine the sinner, it stands stone-still, and seemes neither to meddle or make with him, but lies as sea­red or dead in him. I meane not this conscience. But when God hath sprinkled the conscience with the bloud of Christ, and made the conscience pure: this is a signe that God heares his praier.

I meane not the stammering of consci­ence, when it is dazelled, or overwhelmed: but when it speaks down right as it meanes. A godly mans conscience sometimes may judge otherwise then the thing is. But, exa­mine what thy conscience tells thee in sober sadnesse, deliberatey, convincingly,: and then, know that the Lord tels thee. If thy conscience saies peremptorily that thy heart and waies are rotten, and unsound; [Page 29] then know that the Lord tells thee so, and that the Lord sayeth so to thy soule.

Fifthly the getting of that grace that a man 5 prayes for, is a signe that God heares his praiers. But this is not a true signe alwaies but with distinction.

When the grace given, and the good will of God the giver, cannot be severed: then it is a true signe. But when the gift and the good will of the giver may be severed, then it is not a true signe.

Thou maiest pray unto God, and God may give thee many temporall blessings, and many common graces of his Spirit; God may give thee good parts, a good me­mory: he may give thee a good measure of knowledge and understanding, even in di­vers things; he may give thee some kinde of humility, chastity, civility: thou maiest be of a loving and flexible disposition: so he may give thee a good estate in the world, houses, lands, wife and children &c. God may give thee all these, and yet hate thee, and never heare one praier thou makest; thou maist pray for a thousand blessings, and have them: and yet never be heard, so long as the good will of the giver is severed from them; all outward blessings and com­mon graces may be severed from Gods [Page 30] good pleasure to a man.

Therefore in temporall blessings, or in common graces, if thou wouldst know whe­ther God heare thee or no: know whe­ther God hath given thee a sanctified use of them or no. If God hath given thee many common graces, or temporall blessings, and a heart to use them to his Glory; then every blessing thou hast (there is not a droppe of drinke, nor a bit of bread that thou hast, but) it is a signe of Gods e­verlasting love to thee. Why? because this, and the good will of the giver can ne­ver be severed. But on the contrary, if a man have not a sanctified use of that he hath, then it is the greatest severity of God, and the most eminent plague and curse of God upon the soule to give it; for a mans parts may be his bane, his civility may be his curse, and meanes of the finall hardnesse and impenitencie of his heart.

6 Sixthly faith; if a man have faith given him to beleive, it is a signe that God heares him; be it to thee (saith Christ to the man in the Gospell) according to thy faith; so goe thou to God, and be it to thee as thou be­leevest. Dost thou pray for grace? accor­ding as thou beleevest, so shalt thou receive.

I have no signe that God will heare me;Object. [Page 31] I have so many corruptions of my heart a­gainst me, and so many threatnings of Gods frownes against me; I have no signe that God will heare me.

Wouldst thou have a signe?Answ. An evill and an adulterous generation seeketh a signe: this is a tempting faith, to seeke for signes to believe. Thomas, said Christ, Joh. 20. 29. because thou hast seen me, thou hast belived: blessed are they that have not seene and yet be­lieve. That man that believes because he feels griefe in his heart, teares in his eyes, groans in his spirit, because he prayes long and earnestly, and sweats in his praier, or mourns in his humiliation, I suspect his hu­miliation, his teares, his griefe, his praiers, and all that he hath. Why? these are good signes of faith: but rotten grounds of faith? the Word and promise of God must be thy ground. But against this the soul may object▪

That every Promise runnes with a Condi­tion: Object. and therefore if I have not the condi­tion, how can I beleeve the promise God hath promised? Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousnesse, for they shall be satisfied: There is a Promise of filling, but it is with a condition of hungering. Bles­sed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they [Page 32] shall see God, &c. if I have not the Condi­tion annexed to the Promise, how dare or how can I believe the Promise?

The Condition is not the way to get the Promise; the Promise is the ground of faith,Answ. and the way to get the condition; because the promise is the Motive cause that moves the soule to get the condition. Now, the Mover must be before the Moved; then if beliefe of the Promise move thy soule to get the condition of the promise, then beliefe of the promise must be before that the soule can keepe the condition of the pro­mise.

Saul made a promise to David, 1 Sam. 18. that he should be his sonne in law in one of his two daughters, upon condition that he should give him an hundred fore-skins of the Philistims. Now, David did first believe the promise; and thereby he was allured to fight valiantly, to keepe the condition, to get a hundred fore-skins of the Philistims. So Psal. 116. I believed and therefore did I speake. He beleeved Gods promise, and then he spake with condition. So, we believe saith the Apostle, and there­fore doe we speake. First, the soule beleeves; and then every action of a Christian wher­in it moves to the keeping of the condition, [Page 33] springs from this root; nay beloved, a man cannot keep any condition in the Bi­ble without faith; he must believe.

Secondly, faith is the inabling cause to 2 keep the condition. Dost thou thinke to get weeping, mourning, and humiliation for thy sinnes, and then thereby to get the promise to thy selfe? then thou goest in thy owne strength; and then, in Gods account, thou dost just nothing, John 15. 5. Without me ye can doe nothing, saith Christ; there­fore first lay hold on me, beleeve in me, abide in me.

What! doe you first think to pray, to mourne, to lament and bewaile your sinnes, to do this and that in turning your selves, and sanctifying of your selves? Indeed you may fumble about these things: but you can never do any of them in deed and to the purpose: without me ye can doe no­thing. I had fainted saith the Prophet, un­lesse I had beleeved to see the goodnesse of the Lord in the land of the living, Psal. 27. 13. where we may see three things.

First, the Promise that he should see the 1 goodnesse of the Lord: otherwise he could not have beleeved.

Secondly, the Condition: if he doe not 2 faint.

[Page 34] 3 Thirdly, the method the Prophet went by.

1 First, he beleeved to see the goodnesse of the Lord. As if he had said, if he had not first laid hold on the Promise, if I had not beleeved to have seen the goodnesse of the Lord in the Land of the living, I had fain­ted.

Beloved, it is true that the keeping of the Condition, is before the fruition of the Pro­mise: but not before beleeving the Promise: because the doing of the Condition is effected by beleeving the Promise.

This is the cause that many fumble about grace, but never get it: they are ever repent­ing, but never repent: ever learning, but ne­ver learne the knowledge of the truth ever­lasting: ever striving, but never get power over their corruptions, &c. because they fumble about it in their own strength, and take it not in the right method.

Let the soule come with faith in Christ, and believe it shall speed and have grace, and power from Christ his grace, and from Christs power: and then it shall speed; Christ hath promised (John 16.) that what­soever we aske the Father in his name, he will give it us. Christ (beloved) is an ex­cellent Surety. Indeed, our credit is crackt in Heaven: we may thinke to goe and fetch [Page 35] this and that grace in our owne names, and misse of it: as the servant may goe to the Merchant for wares in his owne name, but the Merchant will not deliver them to him in his own name, unlesse he come in his Ma­sters name and bring a ticket from him: and then when the servant sheweth his Masters ticket, the Merchant will deliver him what wares he asketh for in his Masters name. So when a soule goeth to the Throne of grace with a ticket from Christ; if he can say Lord, it is for the honour of Christ: I come for grace and holinesse, and strength against my corruptions: Lord, here is a tic­ket from Christ: most certainly, he shall speed.

But, men must take heed that they foyst not the name of Christ: that they foyst not a ticket to say that Christ sent them, when it is their own selfe-love, and their owne lust that sends them; it is not enough to pray and at the end to say through Christ our Lord, Amen. No: for this may be a meere foysting of the Name of Christ. But, canst thou pray and shew that Christ sent thee, and say as the servant, I come from my Master, and he sent me? Lord, it is for Christ that I come: it is not to satisfie my owne lust, nor to ease and deliver me from [Page 36] the galls of my conscience, nor to free me from hell; but for Christ; Lord, I begge grace and holinesse, that I may have power to glorifie Christ. It is for the ho­nour of my Lord Christ that I come. When the soul comes thus in Christs name, beleeving it shall speed, then his prayer shall prevaile. Wbatsoever (saith Christ) ye shall aske the Father in my Name, he will give it you.

We come now to the third and last part of our Text: to wit, the supplies they had against danger and discouragements. The Lord upheld their hearts from being dis­mayed in prayer; thou saidst feare not.

There be two things that do much hurt in prayer.

1 First, groundlesse incouragements.

2 Secondly, needlesse discouragements.

1 First, I say, greundlesse incouragements; and these the wicked are most subject to e­specially, who because they pray, heare the Word, and performe many duties of religi­on; therefore they incourage themselves in the goodnesse of their estates, judgeing themselves happy, though notwithstanding they go on and continue in the hardnesse of their hearts and rebellions against God.

[Page 37] We have abundance of sayings amongst us, that if they were examined would prove false and unsound; As, that the vipers die when they bring forth their young; for (say they) the young eate out the old ones bow­els; that beares shape all their young by licking of them; that the Swanne singeth sweetest at her death; that the Adamant stone is softned by Goats blood, &c. These things are not so, as may be shewn out of ancient Writers.

So, beloved, there are abundance of say­ings, that goe up and down amongst men concerning Divinity, which if they were examined, will prove to be rotten sayings; as, he that made them, will save them. It is not so, saith the Prophet, Esai. 27. 11. He that made them, will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them, will not pitty them. It is commonly beleeved, if men come to Church, heare the Word, and call upon God, that then presently they are good Christians. Beloved, it is not so, Matth. 7. 21. Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdome of Heaven.

Men are ready when they can but call Lord have mercy on me; O sweet Saviour, pitty me, most mercifull Lord Jesus, have compassion on me: if they can pray in their [Page 38] families, and pray at Church, &c. to think, now, all is well with them, and Christ can­not but save them, and give them the King­dome of Heaven: but our Saviour puts a not upon it, and saith, not every one that saith Lord, Lord: it is not a Lord, a Lording of Christ with the tongne onely: it is not a taking up of an outward profession of Christ only, that is sufficient for a man that shall inherit the Kingdome of Heaven: no saith Christ: but he that doth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. But, of this by the by.

2 Secondly, there are needlesse discourage­ments which doe much hurt in prayer. Needlesse discouragements doe much hurt to many a poore soule, that hath forcible wouldings, and wracked desires after grace and holinesse, and yet is held by discou­ragements: yea, many a Christian heart lieth a long time under it wrastling and stri­ving under its wants, and yet, kept out from grace, and from growing in grace, because of discouragements: yea the best and strongest of Gods Saints, have been kept off, and have hung much on discou­ragements.

Feare not, saith God to Abraham, Genes. 15. 1. So, feare not Joshua, saith God to [Page 39] Joshua, Josh. 1. 9. Intimating that both A­braham and Joshua were afraid of discou­ragements: they were afraid that many evils would befall them, that they should meet with many rubs and difficulties that would be too hard for them: therefore the Lord calls to them, feare not, be not dis­mayed nor discouraged. Thou saidst feare not. Hence observe,

That God would not have any ChristianDoct. soule to be discouraged in praier. Thou saidst, feare not.

For our clearer proceeding herein, first, let me shew you what discouragement is: and secondly, how it comes to be dange­rous and hurtfull in praier.

What is discouragement?Quest. Answ.

It is a base dismayment of spirit below or beneath the strength that is in a man, vnder the apprehension of some evill, as if it were too hard for him to grapple with it.

There be foure things in this diffinition.

First, I say it is a base dismayment of spi­rit; 1 and so I call it to distinguish it: for there is an humble dismayment which a Christi­an is commanded. A man is bound to be dismayed for his sinnes. Isay. 32. 11. Trem­ble ye carelesse women that are at ease, be trou­bled ye carelesse ones: these carelesse ones [Page 40] went on in their sinnes, and feared not. God calls to them and bids them to be dis­mayed. But the dismayment and the dis­couragement I speake of, it is a base dis­mayment of spirit; which is either when he is dismayed that ought not: or he is dis­mayed at that whereat he ought not to feare: where no cause of feare is.

As Vitello his man thought his Master had got skill in Optickes: he riding along upon the high way, spying a mans shape, thought it was some Spirit: and thereupon he sickened and died. So many a poor soul looking in the perfect Law of God, and seeing his owne uglinesse and filthynesse, he is discouraged, and thinkes himselfe un­done; his heart waxeth cold within him, and he begins to feare that he is but a dead and damned man.

2 Secondly, it is downe beneath the strength that is in a man: that man is properly said to be discouraged: not that he hath no strength at all in him, nor no courage at all (for such a one is an infeebled man, not a man discouraged) but a discouraged man is a man put besides the courage that is in him; when a man hath strength enough to grapple with the evill before him, but through dismayment of spirit he cannot put it forth.

[Page 41] Have not I commanded thee? saith God to Joshua; Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismaied, Josh. 9. God had given Joshua strength enough, whereby he was inabled to observe and do according to all that Law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded him; God had now doubled his Spirit upon him: yet he commands him, be not afraid, neither dis­mayed: as if he had said, Joshua, if thou beest dismayed and discouraged, though thou hast strength and power to go through the businesse that I have called thee unto, yet thou wilt not be able to use it, nor to put it forth if thou beest discouraged.

Thirdly, it is at the apprehension of some 3 evill. I say not at the sight of some evill: for a man may be dismayed at the appariti­on of good, as Mary when she saw nothing but a good Angell, Luke 1. 29. she saw no­thing but a glorious Angel: neverthelesse she was afraid, and discouraged. Why? because she had a secret apprehension of some evill, either of some evill proceeded in the salutation, or some unworthinesse in her elfe to receive such a gracious salutati­on: it cannot be the apprehension of any good that discourageth a man, but the appre­hension of some evill.

[Page 42] Fourthly, not of every evill neither; for if the evill be but small, courage will stand it out; but it is of such an evill as he feares he is not able to grapple withall. If the evill be­fore him, be inferiour to him, he scornes it as the barking of a toothlesse Dog. If it be but an evill equall to his strength, then he makes a tush at it, because he knowes or thinkes himselfe able to encounter with it.

But if it be an evill above his strength, then his spirit melts and droops before him. See this in Saul, 1 Sam. 17. 11. and his peo­ple. When they saw the Champion of the Philistims comming against them, when they saw him so hugely and mervelously armed, and heard him speake such biggs words, they thought they were not able to stand and to encounter with him; and ther­fore saith the Text, when Saul and all Isra­el heard these words of the Philistim, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Thus you see what discouragement is; such discouragements the Lord would not have our hearts to be in when we pray un­to him.

1 For first, God cannot give eare to that man that is out of heart in his prayers. Thou canst never pray if thou beest dismaied in prayer. When the soul begins to feare and reason, [Page 43] O, I am so unworthy that God will not looke at me; I am so sinfull, so blockish, so dead, and dull to all good, that God will never regard me; thou canst never pray, Rom. 10. 14. How shall they call on him in whom they have not beleeved? If thou dost not believe that God will heare thee, if thou dost not be­leeve that thou shalt prevaile, that God will deliver thee out of these corruptions and that lust that thou praiest against; that God will give thee this grace or that grace: if thou dost not beleeve that God will owne thee: if thou hast these doubtfull discouragements, O, he will not grant me, I shall never get this or that: how canst thou call on him? thou mayest call so and so: but never canst thou call to any purpose, if thou dost not beleeve in him.

A begger though he be never so well a­ble to begge, yet if when he comes to the House-keepers dore, he be perswaded that he shall not speed, that let him beg as long as he will, he shall get nothing: this blunts his begging, and makes him give over his suite without any great importunity: So, it is impossible that ever a soule should hold out and pray that is discouraged in prayer.

Secondly, thou canst not pray unlesse thou [Page 44] use all thy strength in prayer; If thou be discouraged, thou canst not use thy strength.

A discouraged man, his strength melts in­to feare; and whatsoever strength he hath, he cannot put it forth. How came Jacob to prevaile and to have power with God? Why, he used all his strength with God, and so prevailed, Hosea 12. 3. Thou canst never prevaile with God by thy prayers, unlesse thou puttest forth all thy strength in praier.

If Jacob had reasoned I am but dust and ashes; how can I strive with God? I am sin­full and evill, how can I contend with my Ma­ker? and so have beene discouraged in his wrastling, he could not have used all his strength with God, and so had never pre­vailed with God. No, Jacob he gathers all the arguments that he could make; he gathers together all the promises he could finde in Gods Book, or that he could heare off; he displaies all the wants that he could shew; he petitions all the graces that he could name; he used all his strength, and by his strength he had power with God.

If thy confession of thy sins be strength­lesse; if thy petitions, and thankesgiving for grace, be strengthlesse; if thou use not [Page 45] all thy strength in prayer, thou canst never prevaile, nor have any power with God. For how can that man prevaile and have power with God that hath no power with himselfe?

Thirdly, thou canst never pray, and have a 3 fearefull apprehension of evill in prayer; thou canst not. It is good to have a deepe ap­prehension of thy sinnes: apprehend them to be as many hells as thou canst, thou canst never apprehend them deeply enough: but if thou hast a fearefull apprehension of them, thou canst never pray.

When the Apostle would exhort the Phi­lipians to continue in one Spirit, and in one minde, fighting together through the faith of the Gospell, he exhorts them that, in no­thing they feare, Phil. 1. 27, 28. For if a man be terrified with his adversary, with the power of his adversary, and feares he shall never be able to withstand him but must fall before him through his subtilty, that he can never be wary enough for him: Alas, he can never strive with hope and courage against him. So, beloved, if we have a fearefull and discouraged kinde of appre­hension of evill, we can never pray so as to prevaile.

Apprehend thy sinnes to be as hellish, [Page 46] and as damnable as thou canst: Feele even the fire of hell in every one of them: but take heed of a fearefull apprehension of them, so to apprehend the evill of them, as to thinke with thy selfe that because thou art guilty of these and these sinnes, that thou shalt never get in with God again, God will never be reconciled to thee: these will eate out thine heart in prayer.

4 Fourthly, we can never pray if we have any secret dispaire that there is any difficulty too hard for us to grapple withall, or to get through in our prayers. Howsoever a man prayes, yet if he have any spice of these feares in him, to thinke now I have taken a great deale of paines, but am never the better; I have prayed and prayed, but have got no good: I may goe on and doe thus and thus, but shall never prevaile or speed; all my labours, all my prayers and indeavours will be lost; this takes away the very spirit and life of a mans prayers.

Judas after he had betrayed the Lord Je­sus, he was discouraged from ever praying for mercy. Why? because he thought it was impossible for him to get it; I have be­trayed innocent blood, saith he. Matth. 27. as if he should say, I shall never out-wrastle this sinne; this sinne is my death: I have brought [Page 47] the blood of the Sonne of God on me, I shall never claw off this sinne: now Judas thus despayring, we never read one letter of any prayer that he made to God to get out of it; no, he thought it too hard for him to get mercy. Despaire drives a man from that he did hope for; because now he thinkes there is an impossibility in getting of it.

Beloved, mistake me not; there is a dou­ble desperation.

First, there is a desperation of infidelity; 1 and that deads and drawes the soule from God.

Secondly, there is a desperation of extre­mity; 2 And, if ever you meane to come to God, and to get any grace from God, you must come with desperation of extremity. desperation puts life into a mans prayers and indeavours.

As, a Souldier when he seeth nothing but to kill or be killed, that he sees his state desperate; why, this will compell a very coward to fight; this will make a coward fight (as if he would kill the Devill, saith the Proverb) it will make him fight like a spi­rit; he will be afraid of nothing. Take a Souldier that fights desperately for his life, with a kill or be killed; he feares nothing; neither Pike, nor Sword, nor Gun? why. [Page 48] he fights sor his life. Therefore one notes that sometimes it is the nearest way to vi­ctory to be desperate in attempts and in fight. Therefore when William the Conque­rour came first into England, at Hasting, he sent back his Ships againe, that so the Soul­diers might have no hope of saving them­selves by flying back. And so at Battle, at one encounter, a little Army of the English slew a great Army of the French. Why? they grew desperate.

So, could men pray desperately, could they pray with a pray or be damned: beg with a begge or be damned; seeke to God for grace that you want with a speed or be dam­ned; then would their prayers be more ear­nest and powerfull to get grace. O, did men pray thus, they would pray otherwise then they doe.

Men pray, but they pray deadly, coldly, and lazily, as if they had no need of prayer, or as if they had no need of the grace they pray for; they pray for grace, but get it not; they pray for zeale, but have it not; for repentance and holinesse, but obtaine it not.

Beloved, either get zeale and holinesse, or else there is no mercy: either get grace and repentance, or else there is no mercy [Page 49] for thee. Pray then when thou prayest for grace, with a speede or be damned: say unto thy soule, either we must speede and get grace Soule, or else we must goe to hell. If men would pray thus, with a speede or be damned, we should never see, nor God should never heare so many cold and dead praiers as now we pray.

Despaire makes a man a Munke saith the Papist: but this despayre makes a man a good Christian I say: never doth a man pray indeede till he feels himselfe in extre­mity, hopeles and desperate in regard of himselfe; so that he seeth no remedie at all but get Christ: get grace or be damned for e­ver. Get power and strength over these corrup­tions: otherwise they will destroy and damne thee; this would make a man pray for life. Men pray coldly and faintly: why? because though they see they have no grace, no zeale, no holines, no repentance, no evi­dence of Christ: yet they hope to be saved notwithstanding. O beloved, the divell hath blinded these men to the intent they may be damned.

But, if men would pray desperate praiers with a pray or be damned, seeke with a finde or be damned: men would then pray other praiers then they doe. Such praiers did Da­vid [Page 50] pray Psal. 130. 1. Out of the deepe places have I called unto thee O Lord, Lord heare my prayer: as if he should say, Lord, I am even in the depth of miserie, plunged over head and eares, so that now I sinke and pe­rish if thou helpe not: Lord, hear my prai­er. This desperation a Christian must have, this quickens up his Spirits, and puts life in­to him: but, take heede of the desperation of Infidelity: Saint Austen saith it is the mur­therer of the soule: the spice of it will eate out the heart of a man, and kill the strength of all his endeavours.

I should now come to apply this doctrine; but I feare me there be many amongst us, that never come so farre towards heaven, as to know what these discouragements meane. This is lamentable.

It is true, discouragements are hideous ca­ses in praier, and a man may perish and goe to hell that hath them: but yet, they are some-what profitable signes that a man doth at the least looke a little towards God, or else he could not know what they are. But there are abundance that never have attain­ed so farre in religion, as to understand what they meane: but goe on in drinking, who­ring, carding and dicing, hating and mali­cing, fretting and chafing, mocking & cove­ting; [Page 51] swearing and blaspheming, in security, in hardnes of heart and impenitencie: they are more carefull for their doggs, for their potts, and for their tables, and for their shops, then they are of their soules: And which is enough to astonish any that is god­ly, these men scarce finde any discourage­ments in praier: O, they have a good cou­rage to pray at all times: O, say they, God forbid that any man should be discouraged in praier▪ I thanke God I have a good hope in God; God hath given me a good heart of grace to call upon him, and I make no question but that God heares me: God would never bid us to pray if he did not meane to heare us.

Beloved, these men that are so bold in the goodnes of their hearts to call upon God, they never as yet praied in all their lives: all the praiers of the wicked are indeede no praiers.

Daniel confessing the sinnes of wicked Judah, saith, though all this evill be come up­on us, yet made we not our prayer to turne from our wicked wayes. Dan. 9. 13. all the time of those seventy yeares, Daniel saith they ne­ver made praier to God; yet they fasted e­very yeare, and praied every day, twise e­very day at the least, which would amount [Page 52] in that time to 50000 and 100 prayers: how then could Daniel say they never made one praier? I answer, (and pray marke it) because they never did quite turne from their evill waies. Though thou makest never so many praiers, though thou boastest of the goodnesse of thy condition, and snatchest at the Promises of God: yet if thou turnest not from thine iniquities, thou never as yet mad'st any praier by the Judgement of God himselfe. Paul made many thousand praiers before his conversion, he could not have beene a Pharise else; but they were never accounted praiers to him: therefore as soon as ever he was converted, behold saith God he prayeth Acts 9.

A wicked man, a carnall Christian, though he have the righteousnesse of Saint Paul before his conversion, of living blam­lesse, unreproveable in respect of the out­ward righteousnesse of the Law: yet he can never make an acceptable prayer till he be truely converted; his praiers are no better then howling of dogs, or lowing of Oxen, yea the Lord abhorrs them. O what poore incouragements canst thou have, seeing the Lord never tallies downe any of thy pray­ers? wicked men are like Ulysses, who wept more for the death of his dogge, then of [Page 53] his wife; so wicked men weepe and mourne for the losse of their corne and their cattle, hawkes and houndes, cardes and dice: but never for the losse of their praiers. So long as thou continuest in thy prophanesse and impenitency, thou losest all thy praiers: there is not one of them that God tallies downe, or reckons for a praier. Here we might have a great deale of matter, if time would suffer me. But it will not, onely let me tell you, I speake onely to those whose hearts God hath awakened out of their sinnes, but who are oft discouraged: take heede of these discouragements.

For, first, they will drive thee to melan­choly. 1 Beloved, there are a great many me­lancholy men in the world, and this is the cause of it; men are contented to be conver­ted by halves: because they are discoura­ged in the worke. If thou suffer thy selfe to be discouraged, it will care up thy spirit and thou wilt be like a silly dove without a heart, Prov. 7. 11. A dove is a melancholy crea­ture, that hath no heart to any thing; so E­phraim hath no heart to call upon God, no heart to returne unto God: and this is the cause that men and women goe whine­ing and mourning under the burden of sin, and are not able to come out, because of [Page 54] discouragements: all the policie of hell is lesse then this policy of the divell, in dri­ving men to despair or discouragements: this doth more hurt then al the rest of hel besides

2 Secondly, if you doe not take heede of them, they will bring you to speake against God, I have prayed, but the Lord will not heare me: I have called, and the Lord will not answer, but hath turned away his eares from me. Now, thou speakest against God. Num. 21. 4, 5. The soule of the people was much discouraged, and the people spake against God, and against Moses, saying, Where­fore have you brought us out of Egypt, to die in the wildernesse? for here is neither bread, nor water, and our soule loatheth this light bread. So, beloved, if we suffer our soules to be discouraged, we shall soone come to murmure against God: wherefore hath he brought me up to this strictnes, and pre­cisensse? when I was a drunkard, a world­ling, when I followed the lust of my flesh and liberry, then I enjoed onnions, gar­licke, and the flesh-pots of Egypt: pleaures and delights for my soule: then I had a good hope in God, and a good perswasion that my soul should goe to heaven: and then Preachers told me that if I would give over such and such sinnes, and looke after [Page 55] Heaven a little more, and doe such and such things, O then I should come to a Land flowing with milke and honey, then I should not misse of glory and salvation; But alas, I see nothing but Gyants and A­nakims; I am in a wildernesse; now, now I see a man have a great deal of repen­tance, and yet be a cast-away; A man may have a great deal of faith & yet be but a re­probate; A man may give over a great many sins, and yet perish in hell; now I see a man may live civilly and well, and have & do a great many good things, and yet be damned when he hath done all: A man may even goe to Heaven Gates, and yet the gates be shut against him, and he turned into hell. A­las! my poore soule is in a wildernesse; now I know not which way to goe; I am ready to lose my selfe, I see nothing here now but huge Gyants, the sonnes of Anack, strong corruptions, inclining and forcing me to evill: most fearefull and violent sug­gestions and temptations of the Devill, rea­dy to thrust me into the gulfe of wicked­nesse and despaire.

And now, the soule begins to thinke that it is good for it to returne again into Egypt, to fall to its old courses againe: for certain­ly God lookes for no such matter, he re­quires [Page 56] no such strictnesse and precisenesse: And so it falls a whining and repining at the Word and Ministers of God that have call'd men to it, and laid it upon them: and hath no heart now to do thus and thus any longer. And thus it falls into discourage­ments because of the way, and into a thou­sand quandaries whether it may not goe back againe or no. And all these murmu­rings and repinings, are because men suffer themselves to be discouraged.

3 Thirdly, discouragements will cause thee to thinke that God hates thee. When the soule like Baals Priests, hath been crying from morning to noone; ten, twenty, thirty yeeres, it may be, and yet hath no answer: now, it will begin to thinke if God did love me, then he would grant me my petitions. Then hereupon comes into a mans secret thoughts and feares that God hardly loves his soule. So was it with Israel; when they were discouraged, they said, because the Lord hated us, therefore he brought us out of the Land of Egypt, Deut. 1. 27. Because that they were discouraged, and because that their Brethren that went for spies, had dis­heartned them; therefore they were apt to say the Lord hated them.

Beloved, it is a miserable thing when [Page 57] the soule calls the love of God into questi­on. Consider that as thou canst not have a friend if thou beest suspitious and jea­lous of his love to thee: So, thou canst ne­ver have the love of God settled on thy heart so long as thou art jealous of his love to thee.

Fourthly, If thou root them not out, it is 4 to be feared that they will bring thee to de­spaire. Melancholy thoughts and feares, and discouragements, drive the soule to de­spaire. For when the soule sees it selfe still disappointed of its hopes, at the last it grows hopelesse: If it have waited one day and the next day too: if it have praied this weeke, this month, this yeare, and yet still it seeth it selfe held off and disappointed: it will at last grow hopelesse. Take heed therefore, I beseech you, of all needlesse discouragements; to fear be ause that thou findest not that that thou wishedst or pray­edst for, to day or to morrow, in thine own time, that therefore thou shalt never get it, that now thou shouldest for ever despaire of the grace and love of God, and thinke that now God will never heare thee, that thou shalt never get grace and power over thy corruptions.

Men thinke that the preaching of the [Page 58] Word of God brings men to despaire, the preaching of such strict points, and the urg­ing such precise doctrines makes men de­spaire: men are loth to be at the paines to root out their discouragements: It is rather a cold or dead preaching of the Word that is the cause of this: for when the soule is instructed by holinesse, humbled by holinesse, converted by holinesse, at the last when it comes to be thorowly awakened, when it sees that this and this is required in a true conversion of the soule to God, that herein true repentance must declare and demon­strate it selfe by these and these fruits, or else it is but false and rotten: Why now, the soul must needs be brought to despaire, because it seeth that though it have been thus and thus humbled, though it have praied, fasted and mourned in this and this manner: yet it sees it hath not a soundnesse of grace.

There is such a grace in it, such a worke and such a fruit of Gods Spirit in it, that yet he could never finde in himselfe: this makes the soule to despaire. Indeed Preach­ers may be too blame if they speake and preach onely the terrours and condemnati­ons of the Law without the promises of the Gospel: for these should be so tempered [Page 59] that every poore broken soule may see mer­cy and redemption for him upon his sound and unfeined repentance and humiliation. But if men doe despaire, they may thanke themselves for it, their owne sinnes for it, their owne discouragements for it, because they suffer these to continue in them.

Cain his heart grew sad, his countenance fell, he was wroth and disquieted in his minde, and heavily discouraged; why? Gen. 4. Sin lay at the dore, (what dore?) the dore of his conscience rapping and beating upon his heart.

Beloved, when the soule lets sinne lie at the dore: drunkenesse, pride and worldli­nesse, security, hardnes and deadnes of heart lie at the dore: when a man lets his negli­gent and fruitlesse hearing of the word lie at the dore, when a man lets his vaine and dead praying, his temporizing and fashio­nary serving of God lie at the dore of con­science, to tell him that all his hearing of the word of God profits him nothing, that his praiers are dead and vaine, that his mourning, fasting, and all his humiliation is counterfeit and rotten, and that he hath no soundnesse of grace in him, but that for all this he may fall into hell: when sinne ly­eth thus at the dore, thus rapping at the con­science, [Page 60] it is no wonder if the soule fall into desperation.

Cain let his sinne lie at the dore, there it lay rapping and beating, and told him that his carelesenesse and negligent sacrificing to God was not accepted: and therefore no marvell if Cain be so cast down in his coun­tenance, and that he fall to despaire.

O beloved, when sinne lieth bouncing and beating at the dore of thy heart, when thy sinne (whatsoever it is, search thy heart and finde it out) lies knocking and rapping at the dore of thy conscience day by day, and month by month, and thou art content to let it lie, and art unwilling to use meanes to remove it, and art loth to take the paines to get the bloud of Christ to wash thy soule from it, or the Spirit of Christ to cleanse thee from it; then thy soule will despaire, either in this world, or in the world to come. But let us take heede then, that our conscience condemne us not in any thing or course that we allow in our selves: for if that doe, then much more will God who is greater then our consciences, and knowes all things.

The Apostle hath an excellent Phrase: Rom. 8. 1. There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus &c. As if he should [Page 61] say, there is not one condemnation; there is none in Heaven, God doth not condemne them; there is none in earth, their owne heart and conscience doth not condemne them; he that is in Christ Jesus, that walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, there is none, no not one condemnation to him; none, neither in Heaven nor in earth: no word, no commandement, no threatning condemnes him. But if thy conscience condemne thee, and tell thee thou lettest sin lie at the dore, rapping at thy conscience day after day, and month after month, telling thee that yet thou art without Christ, that yet thou never hadst any true faith in the Lord Jesus, that yet thou hast not truely repented, and turned from thy sinnes: this will at last drive thy soule into heavie dis­couragements, if not into finall despaire.

O beloved, religion and piety, and the power of godlinesse, goe downe the winde every where. What is the reason of it, but because of these discouragements that men live and go in? Men pray and pray, and their prayers profit them not: men run up and downe and come to the Church and heare the Word, and receive the Sacra­ments, and use the meanes of grace, but to no end: they are unprofitable to them: they [Page 62] remaine in their sinnes still: the ordinances of God bring them not out of their lusts and corruptions: hereby they disgrace and discredit the ordinances of God in the eyes and account of the men of the world, ma­king them thinke as if there were no more power nor force in the Ordinances of God then these men manifest.

There is no life in many Christians, mens spirits are discouraged; these secret discou­ragements in their hearts take away their spirits in the use of the meanes, that though they use the meanes, yet it drives them to despaire of reaping good or profit by them.

1 Beloved, I could here tell you enough to make your hearts ake to heare it.

First, all your complaints they are but winde, Job 6. 26. doe you imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is de­sperate which are as winde? Jobs friends taking Job to be a man of despaire, they accounted all his words but as winde.

Doest thou nestle any discouragement in thy heart? thou maist complaine of sinne as much as thou canst: yet all thy com­plainings are but as winde: thou maist cry out against thy corruptions, with weeping and teares, and pray and fight against them: [Page 63] and yet all thy weeping, mourning and praying is but as the winde: thou maiest beg grace, thou maist seeke after God, thou maist heare the Word, receive the Sacra­ments, and yet all will be to thee as wind: all will vanish, be unprofitable, not re­garded.

Secondly, discouragements drive us from 2 the use of the meanes. If ever we meane to come out of our sinnes, if ever we meane to get grace and faith, and assurance, and zeale: we must constantly use the meanes, 1 Sam. 27. 1. David saith, there is nothing better for me then that I should speedily escape into the Land of the Philistims, and Saul shall despaire of me to seeke me any more. David thought in himselfe, if I can make him out of hope of finding me, cer­tainely he will give over seeking of me. So when the soule hath any secret despaire of finding the Lord, that soule will quickly be drawne from seeking of the Lord in the use of the meanes.

What ever you doe then, O be not dis­couraged, lest you be driven from the use of the meanes: if you be driven from the use of the meanes, woe is to you, you will never finde God then. Be not driven from praier, nor driven from holy conference, [Page 64] nor driven from the Word, nor driven from the Sacrament, nor from meditation, nor from the diligent and strict examination of thy selfe, of thy heart and of all thy waies: for these are the waies of finding the Lord. If you nourish any thoughts and feares of despaire in you, if you be discouraged, you will be driven from the use of the meanes, which is a lamentable thing; therefore be not discouraged.

3 Thirdly, discouragements will make you stand poaring on your former courses, thus I should have done, and that I should have done, woe is me that I did it not▪ it will make a man stand poaring on his sinnes, but ne­ver able to get out of them. So it was like to be with them in the Ship with Paul, Acts 27. 20. In the tempest at Sea, they were utterly discouraged from any hope of safe­ty: now indeed Paul told them what they should have done if they had been wise: Sirs, you should have hearkned to me, and not have loosed, ver. 21. as if he had said, you should have done thus and thus: but now doe not stand poaring too much on that, you should have hearkned to me, and not have launched forth, &c. but that cannot be holpen, now: therefore I exhort you to be of good cheare, &c.

[Page 65] So beloved, when the soule is discoura­ged upon these thoughts, I should have pray­ed better, I should have heard the Word of God better, and with more profit; I should have re­pented better, I should have performed this and that religious and good dutie better; but ah wretch that I am, I have sinned thus and thus; it is alwaies looking on this sinne and that sinne, this imperfection and that failing: when now I say the soule is discouraged, it will be alwaies poaring upon sinne, but it will never come out of its sinne; alwaies poaring upon its deadnesse, and unprofita­blenesse, but never able to come out of it. O beloved, be of good cheare, and be not discouraged; it is true you should have prayed better; you should have heard the Word of God better heretofore, you should have been more carefull and circumspect of your wayes then you were; but now you cannot helpe it; these things and times are gone and cannot be recalled: such a one hath been a drunkard, a swearer, a world­ling, &c. but he cannot helpe it now. True, he might have helped it, and because he did not, his heart shall bleed for it, if he belong to God: but doe not stand poaring too much upon it, but consider now what you have to doe, now you are to humble your [Page 66] selfe, now you are to strive with God in all manner of prayer for more grace, and more power of obedience and assurance, and be not discouraged.

4 Fourthly, if the soule be discouraged, it will breed nothing but sorrow. What is the reason that many Christians are alwaies weeping, and mourning, and sighing, and sobbing, from day to day, all their life time, and will not be comforted? because of these discouragements, 1 Thes. 4. 13. Sorrow not saith the Apostle) as those that have no hope, as if he had said, sorrow if you will▪ but do not sorrow as they that have no hope.

How is that? it is a sorrow with no­thing but sorrow, from which they have no hope of inlargement or freedome.

O then my brethren, suppose you have dead hearts, suppose you want zeale, you want assurance; suppose it be so, yet labour to attaine these graces; sorrow and spare not; weepe and mourne, and powre out whole buckets of teares for your sinnes, if you can: but, sorrow not with nothing but sorrow: be not discouraged: suppose that thou hast a dead heart, that thou art an hy­pocrite, that thou hast a rotten heart; it is a heavie thing, and a fearefull case indeed, [Page 67] for which thou hast great cause of humilia­tion and sorrow; but yet sorrow not despe­rately as men without hope: be not whol­ly discouraged, but as you sorrow for your sins, so also labour with incourage­ment to get out and be rid of your sins.

Fifthly, discouragements breed and procure 5 a totall perplexity. They leave the soule in a maze, that it knowes not whether to turne it selfe. When men come to be discouraged, Oh what shall I doe saith one, I am utterly un­done saith another: I know not what will be­come of me, saith a third: Oh I am utterly lost, I shall perish one day, one day God will disco­ver me, and be avenged on me for this and that sin: I were as good go to hell at the first as at the last, for that will be the end of me: I have gon to prayer, but that doth not helpe me: I have gone to Sacraments, but I finde no helpe: still my soule lies under the power of sinne, still my sinnes are as strong in me as ever: Thus the soule is discouraged and cryes out, Oh, what shall I doe? I know not what to doe. What shall I doe sayest thou?

Alas, thou hast things enough to doe, if thou wert not discouraged. Utterly undone! No, man, thou mightest see that thou art not utterly undone, but that thou art discou­raged. Dost thou not know what will be­come [Page 68] of thee? yea, poore soule, there is mercy, grace and peace for thee, if thou wilt not be discouraged.

6 Sixthly, discouragements whisper within a man a sentence of death, and an impossibility of escaping. As far as the discouragement of life goeth, so farre goeth the sentence of death. We despaired of life, and had the sen­tence of death in our selves, saith the Apostle, 2 Cor. 1. 8. 9. he despaired of life in himself, and therefore had the sentence of death in himselfe; this was good, but he did not de­spaire of life in God; for then he should have had likewise the sentence of death from God in his conscience.

If you despaire in the Lord, you have the sentence of death and damnation from God in your conscience; take heed of this my beloved; be not discouraged in God: do not despaire in the Lord: that will worke a miserable effect in your soules: it will secretly whisper a sentence of damna­tion in your soules.

It is strange to consider how many poore soules rub on with these whispering senten­ces in their bosomes, suffering their consci­ences day by day to tell them that they are rotten, to tell them that they were never yet converted, to tell them that they are yet in [Page 69] the state of damnation, and yet they will not root out these discouragements.

O goe to the Throne of grace, beg for grace and for mercy, and for power against sinne, and be not discouraged. What? wilt thou carry thy owne sentence of death in thy brest? if thou wilt not rouze up thy soule, and pray with more affection and confidence, and shake off discouragements, take heed lest thou carry the sentence of thy own death and damnation in thy bow­els. O therefore once more let me beseech you to take heed of these discouragements, and now hearken to the voice of God which calleth upon you, feare not. Thou drewest nigh in the day that I called upon thee, thou saidst feare not.


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